28 June 2018

Learning more about medical cannabis

Drugs Education Pain

The first Australian-grown medicinal cannabis products are in train for delivery before the year-end, marking the start of a government-endorsed move to develop a major industry.

Queensland producer Medifarm has blazed the way with investment and know-how from Israeli medicinal cannabis pioneer Tikun Olam and a research partnership with the University of the Sunshine Coast.

“We are in this business to help Australian patients,” Medifarm director Adam Benjamin told The Medical Republic.

“We intend to have product available for Aussie patients by Christmas this year.”

Medifarm will host a clinician-led seminar for GPs and specialists on practical aspects of medicinal cannabis prescribing at the Sunshine Coast university’s Innovation Centre on Friday, July 6.

“Not only will they come away with a deeper understanding of how cannabinoid medicine works, they will hear it from doctors who began the journey before becoming approved (prescribers) and who pushed and pushed and became approved,” he said.

“They will talk specifically about their case studies in pain management, epilepsy, cancer, nausea and vomiting, and palliative care.

“So doctors will come away knowing what (medicine) works and the clinical indications.”

One of the presenters, NSW GP Dr Teresa Towpik told The Medical Republic she was thrilled to have RACGP accreditation for her ground-breaking educational work on medicinal cannabis.

“I decided to share my learning and knowledge. It is about practical hands-on experience: What do you do in your first consultation; how to approach dosing, follow-ups with patients, how to monitor them,” she said.

GPs attending the July 6 seminar can thus earn RACGP CPD points.

Mr Benjamin says Australia is well positioned to capitalise on the global medicinal marijuana boom, given federal backing and the country’s strengths in farming and healthcare.

“The real reason is, we have a federal landscape that sets the health initiative,” he said.

“This gives a huge advantage over countries like America, where approvals are state-based … federally, it is not approved, and that rules out a major part of research.

“You can research and control products here that have global application in countries where medicinal cannabis is permitted. By the end of this year, another 30 countries will have legislated for it.”

Medifarm, and other Australian producers planning to bring product online, will take on a growing list of imported medicinal cannabis products.

Already, a few dozen importers have product available and listed on an Australian government website, while several dozen more have applications are in the pipeline.